Dear Ms. Rice,
You posted the following on Facebook the other day (and followed up with a few other posts along the same vein):
“As I said before, I fear Christianity. I have found it to be an immoral religion. And I have found it to be a very very aggressive religion which does a great deal of harm in the world. Christians in America spend millions trying to influence legislation and elections to limit the rights of women and the rights of gays. They do not leave the rest of us alone. They do not respect the rest of us. I fear this. I wish those who call themselves Christians, and claim to be loving and good, would take some real moral responsibility for their religion and the things it has done historically and the things it is doing now.”
I’m a progressive Wiccan Christian. I go to seminary at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, which is probably the most progressive Christian seminary on the planet. There are many of us here who are fighting the good fight, talking and working on creating a more inclusive theology. We do exist.
Unfortunately, as my Christian History professor so rightly put it last week, we are a very small drop in a very big bucket.
Christianity is not monolithic. Hasn’t been since the beginning, and most certainly not since Martin Luther nailed his theses to the door. I suggest you take a look at the work that Bishop Yvette Flunder and the City of Refuge in San Francisco is doing around radical inclusion. I am a member of that church, and I can tell you, it’s certainly not like any other church I’ve been in.
Better yet, get on a plane and come visit. 1 pm, Sundays, 1052 Howard Street in San Francisco. Oh, and this church, and it’s organization, has accepted me as a member, witchcraft and all.
My church understands the damage that the institution of Christianity has done. I understand this fully. I acknowledge Christianity’s horrid history. There’s no getting around that. But there’s some things to think about here:
1) Who is really to blame here? Can you blame all the Christians from all over the world for the damage that the people running the institutions have done? Should we have blamed you, when you were still Catholic, for the mistakes and damage of all the Popes, past and present? Should we condemn a kid as bad in a rural town in Oklahoma for the bigotry that his parents do in the name of Jesus? There are humans that are doing horrid things in the name of Christianity, there are those of us who are working to fix that, and then there are the innocents that get caught in the middle.
2) What really frustrates me, what really just makes me want to hurl a lot of profanity some days, are when prominent people, like yourself, yelling at the top of their lungs about how Christianity is so bad (and where are all these progressive Christians, and why won’t they do anything about X, Y, Z, OMGWTFBBQ!) is that while you’re bitching about it, there are those of us doing the work. It may not be big, it may not be the change you want right away, or some big in your face campaign, but we’re doing it. If I can help heal someone from pain, or give them comfort through prayer, then I’ve done healing in the name of Jesus. Sometimes, one needs to pick their battles.
3) And finally, where are you? What are you doing to help people like me change the face of Christianity? Where are your big donations to Dignity, or City of Refuge (that needs a lot of work done on it’s building to be able to serve it’s congregation), or the Women’s Ordination group, or any other progressive and radically inclusive church or organization? Are you coming to progressive Christian events and supporting the work we’re trying to do? It’s one thing to bitch online about it on Facebook, but let’s be real here: we don’t have millions of dollars. We can’t compete with the Rick Santorums, Mitt Romneys, Koch brothers, or the Pope. I know I won’t get paid to be a pastor in my church, nor do I expect to be. Most progressive pastors and ministers have to have day jobs, and boy would it be nice to have all that money that the mega-churches and the Roman Catholic church has. But we don’t. And yet, we are still there, still serving, and giving our own money, that we probably would really need for other things, in order for our church, and it’s message, to survive. So, I ask again, where is your support of the people trying to make change? We sure could use it.
I’m sorry for the damage you received in the Church. You’re not the only one, but just remember I, and others like me, are trying to work for change. There aren’t enough of us that have the national stage to be a force in the media, but we do what we can.